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GOP Senators, 9 States Back Arizona Law Over Feds

AP
Arizona immigration
AP

The Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona's controversial new immigration law is coming up against new resistance from some Republican senators, as well as attorneys general from a handful of states.

GOP Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and David Vitter of Louisiana announced yesterday they are introducing an amendment to a small business bill that would prohibit the Obama administration from participating in lawsuits against the Arizona law. They are planning on introducing the proposal to the bill slated for debate on the Senate floor next week.

"States like Arizona shouldn't be prosecuted for protecting their citizens when the federal government fails to do so," DeMint said in a statement.

Meanwhile, nine states -- Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands -- filed a legal brief yesterday supporting Arizona's law.

"Arizona, Michigan and every other state have the authority to enforce immigration laws, and it is appalling to see President Obama use taxpayer dollars to stop a state's efforts to protect its own borders," Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican running for governor in his state, said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

The law in question, slated to go into effect at the end of the month, makes it a state crime for a person to be in the country illegally. It requires local law enforcement during all "lawful stops" to question a person about his or her immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person may be in the country illegally. The Justice Department is challenging the law in court on the grounds that it usurps federal authority to enforce immigration laws.

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has called the lawsuit "outrageous," insisting the law is constitutional.